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Modern Marketing in the Era of Cancel Culture

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16 January 2020

You are probably wondering what one has to with the other, but stay with me here. As a marketer who has been around since the advent and wonder of email marketing in the throws of adolescence, I almost called this article “Modern Marketing in the Era of Cancellation Culture.”

Don’t “Ok, Boomer” me, I’m a Gen Xer – who still thinks the grunge era was the best.

Yesterday I received a text that I had “opted into communications” from a local university, quickly followed by an invitation to buy an MBA. I had not. I might have opted into email, but it’s pretty rare how often I opt into text messages. I’m the dork who reads the fine print, because as a digital marketer, I know how we work. 

I quickly texted “STAAAAHP” because I’m not interested in receiving texts from this org. I still feel somewhat violated when any company has the chutzpah to text me without my permission. In fact, I regularly block numbers that call my phone every five minutes, after I have peeked at an infographic. I managed a BDR team – so I don’t feel good about this, but like a lot of people, I just can’t handle the noise anymore.

For too many years, we have been loose with our personal data. We poured out our hearts into social forums, and brought listening devices into our homes – and yet, I think I’m seeing a shift. Our cell phone providers are being pushed to make it easier to recognize unwanted calls, and block them for infinity, at least until they buy a new block of caller numbers to get through to your line. This is cancel culture from the phone perspective. 

how on earth can we get through to the businesses we really want to partner with, if people are folding their arms across their chests and showing us their backs in every channel?



It’s also easier than ever to block and report spammy emails – with a click of the small exclamation button, for violators of digital marketing rule 101: ‘Make it easy for prospects to unsubscribe to your communications’. I’m floored at how many businesses still make you log into their website to unsubscribe, or provide you with 10 subscription options, while hiding the global unsubscribe. If I’m not interested in what you have to offer – I sure as heck don’t remember my login. Cancel. You are dead to me.

I recently muted a vendor on LinkedIn because he was so aggressive and dishonest. His approach was to tell me that he had gotten very close to closing a deal with one of my demand managers in my previous job, and wanted to be a partner in my new gig. Lies. Mute. You are hereby cancelled. The sad thing here is that not only would I never work with this Sales Rep, I would also never work with the company he represents. If I can’t trust him, why would I trust them?

What can you do to differentiate yourself from the competition? Be authentic and honest.



The meat of this dilemma – how on earth can we get through to the businesses we really want to partner with, if people are folding their arms across their chests and showing us their backs in every channel? We all know the truth and we just can’t handle it. Generic marketing is no longer working. We have to go back to the basics, and build relationships. It’s a hard pill to swallow – especially for those of us who hit send on our first mass marketing email so many years ago, feeling both terror and a thrill at the same time. 

Your biggest accounts are going to need for you to find them at industry events, introduce yourself and start building a relationship. It might take months – or even years, but if you can start building a friendship, you will put yourself in a position to sell to that person, no matter where they go in their career, and vice versa. There is so much overlap in the marketing stack, that we all now have the flexibility to buy from the vendor we like. I’ll take excellent customer service over most bells and whistles every day. 

What can you do to differentiate yourself from the competition? Be authentic and honest. If you really want to sell to someone, take the time to get to know them – and send them an email that acknowledges they were awesome in their last LinkedIn article. Snail mail them a handwritten note. Or maybe a carrier pigeon? I’m not sure that the last one is legal, but you get the picture. Don’t make me cancel you.

Catina Martinez
By: Catina Martinez
SENIOR CONSULTANT
Cat has spent the past 12 years leading B2B demand generation efforts as both a consultant and leader in digital marketing. For the past three years, she has immersed herself in becoming an ABM expert - building and implementing strategies that have driven measurable impact and growth. She enjoys architecting campaigns and geeking out on operations and reporting.

Cat lives in Utah, and can be often be found camping in the desert, hiking in the foothills, or at home cooking large traditional Mexican dinners for her family.
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Catina Martinez
By: Catina Martinez
SENIOR CONSULTANT

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